Hitting the slopes, nosepickers in toe
There are many things I love to do with my children: read books, watch movies, discuss dental hygiene, impart didactic stories from my youth, tickle them silly. Absent from the list is anything requiring physical strength; for all of my redeeming qualities, patience does not make the list, and boatloads of patience is required when cajoling three children of different sizes and abilities into breaking a sweat.
I love to ski, and have from the first moment I forced my foot into a borrowed ski boot that was two sizes too small, so from the get-go I can’t for the life of me understand their opposition to this sport. I cringe inwardly when I hear these words come out of my mouth: “When I was a little girl….” so I don’t say it to them, but I just realized I CAN say it here. What follows is a diatribe.
I dreamed of skiing as a child. I watched ski race coverage religiously on the ABC Wide World of Sports, salivating at the spectacle of skiers effortlessly flying down steep slopes, averting my eyes when they careened into fences and spectators. Fascinating stuff.
Nova Scotia, my old stomping ground, is not known for its mountainous terrain, the closest hill (or bump, or mosquito bite) was an hour away. Despite this, there was an active skiing community that I longed to be a part of, even though my parents didn’t ski and it was prohibitively expensive.
Here is where having several older siblings of driving age is an asset (because sharing one box of cookies amongst nine children certainly wasn’t). My sister was part of this hot-rod skiing community, and she took my pain-in-the-butt-ten-year-old self, for some reason, skiing once a year for a spell.
My siblings liberally chime in about my many misgivings as a child – and now adult – but even they will admit I was a joy to teach skiing; I’ve probably not been as keen or as excited about learning anything since. They may, however, have been embarrassed to be associated with me, since my thrown-together, borrowed ski ensemble resembled a garage sale more than an outfit.
I wish I had a picture to show my own kids, who’s splashy ski suits and matching gloves and helmets never seem to make their grade. I grit my teeth.
I remember refusing to go in for lunch, choosing to eat a sandwich instead while in line for the t-bar (It was all t-bars and rope tows in those days, so sitting down was out of the question). I remember thinking my hands were going to fall off from cold, but not wanting to complain in case I was made to go inside. I remember drinking nothing, despite almost unbearable thirst, so that I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom. I remember legs shaking from fatigue, and swallowing snot in lieu of finding Kleenex.
Granted, I am not as hard core these days, but you see where I’m going with this: I was so thankful for the opportunity to ski that I thought I’d never have, I was determined to make the most of it. Those nights when I came home from the slopes, I would lay in bed with the sensation of the t-bar pulling me up the hill, reliving each moment of my ski day.
None of my children have this ski bug, despite the phenomenal ski terrain at our doorstep and access to the best instruction in the world. Kids today. The mere mention of going skiing sends them into a tirade of reasons why we shouldn’t. It breaks my heart. If I hadn’t birthed them myself, I would be seriously questioning their DNA.
Like playing golf is a good way of ruining a nice walk, skiing with my children was the worst way to spend a day that I could think of. The expense and time of suiting them all up, only to log three runs between hot chocolate/lunch/pee/cold feet breaks, not to mention the tears and complaints, was not worth the colossal effort.
But there is hope on the horizon.
On New Year’s day, under the ideal conditions of a bluebird sky, temperature inversion, and no line ups, I had a pleasant ski day with my children. We stuck to very doable blue runs, had fun with jumps in the terrain garden, and raced through the gates on the GMC race course. This is big news in my life.
I learned years ago that my children will be the opposite of me, despite my best laid plans; but where skiing is involved I might win the day yet. Very fitting with my New Year’s mantra: Anything is possible in 2011.